United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.
filed his Complaint on December 26, 2018. (Filing No.
1.) He has been given leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Filing No. 6.) The court now conducts an
initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
brings this civil action against Goodwill Industries, Inc.
alleging a federal question based on “Restatement of
the Law, Second, Torts, § 652.” (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF p. 3.) Plaintiff's “Statement of
Claim” simply states “[i]nvasion of
privacy” and, in his request for relief, Plaintiff
alleges: “Followed by private investigator. Camera.
Stalking. Harrassment. Invasion of privacy. Hate.
Obscenities.” (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 4-5
(punctuation & spelling in original).) Plaintiff requests
damages of $2, 000, 000 and punitive damages of $5, 000, 000.
(Id. at CM/ECF p. 5.)
LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires that every complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” and
that “each allegation . . . be simple, concise, and
direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (d)(1). A complaint must
state enough to “‘give the defendant fair notice
of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While
complaints filed by pro se litigants are held to less
stringent standards than those applied to formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972), even pro se litigants must comply with the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Here, Plaintiff's
Complaint fails to meet this minimal pleading standard.
Moreover, the Complaint's allegations fail to establish
the court's subject-matter jurisdiction.
plaintiff must sufficiently state a claim for relief that
contains, “a short and plain statement of the grounds
for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court has
jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional
support.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). Subject-matter
jurisdiction may be proper in federal court pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332, commonly referred to as “diversity
of citizenship” jurisdiction, when “the
citizenship of each plaintiff is different from the
citizenship of each defendant.” Ryan v. Schneider
Nat'l Carriers, Inc., 263 F.3d 816, 819 (8th Cir.
2001) (citation omitted). Subject-matter jurisdiction may
also be proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 where a plaintiff
asserts “[a] non-frivolous claim of a right or remedy
under a federal statute, ” commonly referred to as
“federal question” jurisdiction. Northwest
South Dakota Prod. Credit Ass'n v. Smith, 784 F.2d
323, 325 (8th Cir. 1986).
Plaintiff has not alleged the parties are citizens of
different states, and the Complaint fails to state
Defendant's place of incorporation and principal place of
business as required to establish diversity jurisdiction.
See Sanders v. Clemco Industries, 823 F.2d 214, 216
(8th Cir. 1987) (complaint failed to establish diversity
jurisdiction where it stated Plaintiff's residency, but
not his citizenship, and failed to state the principle places
of business of corporate defendants). In addition, Plaintiff
does not allege a cause of action under federal law. While
Plaintiff checked the box on the form civil complaint
indicating the basis for the court's jurisdiction is a
federal question, he did not allege that any federal laws or
constitutional provisions are at issue. (See Filing No. 1
at CM/ECF p. 3.) Rather, Plaintiff cites section 652 of
the Restatement Second of Torts which discusses the functions
of a judge and jury in actions for injurious falsehood.
See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652 (1977).
Such actions do not involve a federal question, and
Plaintiff's other sparse allegations of harassment,
invasion of privacy, and stalking simply do not reasonably
suggest Defendant violated federal law.
stands, the Complaint's allegations fail to establish
that jurisdiction exists under section 1331 or section 1332.
On the court's own motion, Plaintiff will be given 30
days in which to file an amended complaint that clearly sets
forth a basis for this court's jurisdiction and
sufficiently describes his claims against Defendant.
Plaintiff should be mindful to clearly explain what Defendant
did to him, when Defendant did it, how Defendant's
actions harmed him, and what specific legal rights Plaintiff
believes Defendant violated. If Plaintiff fails to file an
amended complaint in accordance with this Memorandum and
Order, his claims against Defendant will be dismissed without
prejudice and without further ...